Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wild Turkey and Other Game Birds

Happy Thanksgiving! Traditionally we associate turkeys with Thanksgiving. Thanks for checking out this blog for a slightly different take on turkeys. 

Around here, the state introduced wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) a few years back. Although wild turkeys are native to large parts of North America, they aren't native to this area. Nevertheless,  the state thought it might be fun to put some in so people could go hunt them. (We'll just ignore any effects they might have on the native wildlife before I go off on a long diatribe.) The wild turkeys have flourished and now are in all sorts of places they weren't supposed to go. Although this time of year would seem to be ideal to have the hunt, the season is March -May.

Apparently bringing birds in just so they can be hunted is a fairly popular thing that state wildlife agencies do. Above is a chukar (Alectoris chukar), a bird native to Eurasia, but now found in many states in the western U.S. Every year from October through February there is a chukar hunting season and people go out and try to shoot this football-sized bird, with a daily limit of 6 (in Nevada). The birds travel in coveys of 5 to 40 birds. The chukar is the national bird of Pakistan. (You're ready for Jeopardy now.)

Another introduced game bird is the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). Some people near here tried to raise these in pens so they could then be released for hunters to shoot, but foxes kept getting into the pens and killed them all. This bird, originally from Asia, is one of the most sought-after game birds throughout the U.S. In Nevada, hunting season is all the month of November, so it could be a good potential replacement for the standard turkey dinner.

I figure if a bird has to be introduced, it should be something really exotic with a silly name, like this Himalayan Snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis). The only place it lives in the U.S. is in the Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada. As such, it has become a mecca for birders who want to add it to their life list without traveling to the Himalaya Mountains. Bird trips like this one are organized to go see the Himalayan snowcock. Some birders will even go so far as to hire a helicopter to get them up to the high elevations where the bird prefers to live. There's a hunting season for the snowcock, from September to November. It makes me wonder who provides more to the local economy: hunters or birders in search of this elusive bird?

2 comments:

The Incredible Woody said...

One of my super-powers is my ability to do a turkey call.

Once when driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, there was a male turkey with several females in a field beside the road. The male had all his plummage fluffed out.

I pulled over and told my husband to watch. At the time he was still an unbeliever in my super power.

I gobbled at the turkey. He immediately turned in our direction and gobbled back. He was not a happy camper that someone was cutting in on his action.

I gobbled a few more times, each time he gobbled back. There were also a couple of competitors in the woods that let their presence be known.

Once my husband was convinced of my super power, I left Mr Turkey to impress the females!

Caroline said...

That Tom is sooo cute!
He reminds me of a little rhyme
I used to tell my boys when they were little;
Mr. Turkey walking wobble, wobble, wobble.
Mr. Turkey talking, gobble, gobble, gobble.

Have a happy, safe, warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Hugs to the Desert family!
~C

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